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Selected by the Texas Rangers in the 13th round in 2017 out of GateWay Junior College in Arizona, right-handed pitching prospect Seth Nordlin had a phenomenal first season in pro baseball this summer. Pitching for the rookie-level AZL Rangers of the Arizona League and pitching coach Jono Armold, Nordlin made 12 relief appearances in 2017, and finished 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA over 21.2 innings. In that time frame, the sinker/slider righty allowed just 12 hits and five walks, while striking out 34 hitters, putting up a 1.50 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio, and holding opponents to a .164 batting average.

A low-three-quarters type with room left to grow into his thin frame at just 20 years old (DOB: September 4, 1997), Seth Nordlin has a deep repertoire with an advanced understanding of how to sequence his stuff and set up hitters on both sides of the plate. Seeing so much success in 2017 figures to get him on the inside track to start 2018 at Low-A Hickory, and while his deep arsenal would make him an interesting rotation arm next year or beyond, I really like his attack mode and pitchability out of the bullpen and the potential for that to play up with more velocity late in close games as he grows into his frame. Below, you’ll find our full Seth Nordlin scouting report, including velocities, pitch and tool grades, and game video on the Texas Rangers pitching prospect.

Seth Nordlin, Texas Rangers — 2017 Scouting Report

Dates observed in 2017: August 5; August 8

Four-Seam Fastball (50)
Straightforward early count pitch for get-ahead command, but still some arm-side life thanks to low arm slot. Good extension out to glove-side with command feel there. Lacks downward plane. Must be pinpoint; not enough velocity (yet?) to overpower good hitters. Early get-over pitch for strike one, or for when behind in the count; two-seamer (below) is more often to get off the barrel and draw some swings and misses. More velocity on the way; wouldn’t surprise me if he surges to mid-90s over the next few years as his frame fills out. Velocity: 90-92, T 93.

Two-Seam Fastball (55)
Very significant arm-side run with considerable natural, late sink. Can sometimes get away from him arm-side to RHH box, but typically well-controlled. Advanced control and command feel to glove-side. Likes to start it at LHH knee and trusts it to run back over the black. Arguably more advanced command to glove-side than arm-side in both my looks; atypical for a player at this level but bodes well for Nordlin’s future against LHH. Low three-quarters arm slot provides consistent life without much manipulation. Exceptional feel for bottom third of the strike zone; very rarely landed more than a few inches above the knee in my looks. Late sink will miss some bats, especially RHH as it dives down and in right at the plate, and draw consistently weak ground ball contact. Velocity: 88-90, T 91.

Changeup (55)
Exceptional feel for changeup; good arm-side life with sink and speed differential. Good extension out front and comparable arm action to fastball. Chance to be a plus pitch, especially as a second look to LHH. Like the two-seamer, Nordlin has exceptional feel for changeup down in the zone. Control ahead of command, but very rarely leaves it up out over the plate. Won’t miss as many bats as breaking balls, but enough life to get it off the barrel and create ground balls. Velocity: 80-82, T 83.

Curveball (40)
Very good speed differential with identical arm action to fastballs and slider. 11-to-5 break, will occasionally spin out some to his arm-side. Can get loopy and lack bite, but always has decent depth and downward movement at the plate. Tends to get around it at low arm angle, accounting for some slurve action and that lack of hard, late bite. Less consistent control/command than the slider (below) or the fastballs. Far and away Nordlin’s worst (relative) pitch; considerable work needed to get it to average. That said, he understands how to sequence it, and speed differential/eye-level changes alone made it effective at the rookie level this summer. Used sparingly—and improved considerably—it could become a rarely-used ace up the sleeve to pull out in certain situations against better hitters. Velocity: 72-74, T 75.

Slider (50)
Late 10-to-4 break. Consistent depth. Throws it hard, could even throw it slightly harder with similar life. Good extension to get out to his glove side, and advanced feel for bottom third of the strike zone. Life to miss bats, specifically RHH but can back-foot it to LHH with enough life and velocity for effectiveness. Will occasionally back up on him, but pretty rare; even at lower arm angle, he is consistently on top of it (far more than the curveball) and gets out in front at release to produce good life. Chance to be an above-average pitch one day; need to see how it plays against better hitters, but he proved effective in picking spots this summer. Velocity: 77-78, T 79.

Control/Command (70/55)
Nordlin has a tough arsenal with a ton of life and a tricky arm angle, and yet he proved his command chops this summer: just five walks and one hit batter in 21.2 frames — very commendable. Advanced control for his age and level. Mechanics (below) help, but he does well not to let more than a rare fastball get away arm-side; good extension out front and consistent release point across full arsenal helps. Control is ahead of command, which is pretty normal at this level, but Nordlin is already above-average at both. Consistently lives in the bottom third of the zone; that coupled with natural movement makes command misses less painful than they’d be for others. Command profile will bode well moving forward, especially in high leverage relief roles that require immediate feel for strike zone.

Low three-quarters arm slot with very little spine tilt and head motion. Picks up target late into motion, but doesn’t seem to hurt command. Hides the ball fairly well on the back side; quick arm action through to release. Good extension out front. Satisfactory follow-through, generally finishes squared up to the plate or with momentum slightly to first base side. Repeatable delivery. Cross body thrower who lands closed, some deception to RHH and leaves them uncomfortable at plate. Cross-body mechanics also improve pitch life; allows for mild deception through motion. Won’t leak out from the stretch; consistent and deliberate to the plate with runners on base; arm catches up to body and generally maintains release point.

Far more advanced than I expected. Mature and consistent competitor, ahead of pace for his age with lively stuff that he’s harnessed very well. Advanced understanding of how to sequence hitters; consistent ability to execute on pitches and locations across both sides of the plate and with his entire arsenal. Must improve his curveball, but worth keeping it as a distinct look from slider. Deep arsenal and pitchability makes me wonder if Nordlin doesn’t slide into the rotation in 2018, but I think his competitiveness and ability to miss bats and draw weak contact should keep him in the bullpen long-term. Could end up proving to be a steal in the 13th round; with some development and velocity, I believe there’s a shot at high-leverage relief in his future.

Seth Nordlin Scouting Report — Texas Rangers — 2017 Game Video

Seth Nordlin Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis

Seth Nordlin isn’t the traditional bat-missing, high-leverage reliever, in that he doesn’t sit in the mid-90s with a two-pitch arsenal consisting of a straight fastball and a power slider. The righty has a far deeper repertoire than you’d expect for his role and age, and he pairs it with some serious ability to execute on pitches down in the zone. A junior college product who turned 20 years old after the AZL season ended, it’s probably wise that the Texas Rangers started him in rookie ball this summer, but the righty proved too advanced for the league and should probably find himself in Low-A in 2018 depending on how the offseason goes.

Because of his deep arsenal, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Rangers are tempted to turn him into a starting pitcher. That’s all well and good, and maybe there’s enough pitchability there to eventually slide him into the very back end of a big league rotation, but I think it’s likely Seth Nordlin settles into a middle-relief/set-up role with exceptional feel for how to draw weak contact, and the command profile and stuff to miss bats in high-leverage situations. Plus, he’ll add velocity as he builds on his lean frame over the next few years, and the Texas Rangers could find they have a mid-90s power sinker/slider guy who can very satisfactorily fill out a seventh/eighth inning role soon enough.

Seth Nordlin Scouting Report — Future Projection

Listed at 6’4″ and currently just 205 lbs., Seth Nordlin has plenty of room to grow into his body as he further refines and perfects his deep arsenal. When he does, he could be a monster, armed with a mid-90s power sinker and a harder, sharper slider and curveball to boot — and all that coming from an above-average command profile and low three-quarters arm slot. Taken together, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Texas Rangers have found themselves a diamond in the rough who could one day throw meaningful bullpen innings at the big league level. His command profile in particular suggests an exciting ceiling, if only because it’ll allow Nordlin to keep throwing strikes across his whole arsenal as he inevitably develops the power side of his repertoire.

He’s still very young, but the South Atlantic League feels like a realistic goal for the 2018 season, and as a reliever Seth Nordlin could move up relatively quickly from there. Unknown and underrated right now, and unlikely to ever be a high-profile prospect because of his role, the righty showed out very well in his debut season and he has a path forward if he can continue to execute on his entire arsenal. In a similar way to what the Colorado Rockies have in unknown catching prospect Javier Guevara right now, the Texas Rangers could be sitting on a seriously valuable pitcher in Seth Nordlin if his development path consistently moves forward from his exceptional 2017 showing.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): High-leverage, short stint set-up man (7th/8th inning); good enough arsenal and command profile to work in middle relief at floor (50/45)

MLB ETA: 2021


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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census, the author of We Is Blaze, (obviously) a fan of minor league baseball, and an unlikely expert on the animated classic TV show King Of The Hill. For more on Bobby and the personal, human side of this site, follow him on Twitter and Facebook: @BobbyDeMuro.

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